Archive for August 2013


Dorway to ... ?

Dorway to … ?

“Fashioning love out of nothing is an enormously creative act,

yet it is enthusiastically undertaken by almost every human on the planet.

We are, each of us, creators in that respect.”

Rev. Gretta Vosper in her book, “With or Without God: Why the way we live is more important than what we believe“, page 166


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream

Many people feel inspired by reading the “I Have A Dream” speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

More challenging is the letter that he wrote to clergy in Birmingham during the time that King was incarcerated there. A summary can be found in Wikipedia at:

It was in this letter that King wrote about how we are all interconnected in this world; wisdom that those who are concerned about our environment have learned from the civil rights movement. King wrote:

 “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Rising sea levels – research

Record sea-levels a matter of fact, not politics: Scharper

Muzzling scientists won’t make rising sea levels recede.

Kevin Costner in the vast blue expanse of Waterworld. The movie was a flop but perhaps prophetic.


Kevin Costner in the vast blue expanse of Waterworld. The movie was a flop but perhaps prophetic.

By:  Christianity, Published by The Toronto Star on Wed. August 21 2013

In the 1995 post-apocalyptic film Waterworld, a bedevilled Kevin Costner strives to stay alive in a post-terra-firma seascape.

In this futuristic drama, the polar ice caps have melted, civilization has gone the way of Davey Jones’s locker, and Sea-Doo skiers replace motorcycle gangs and mafiosi as prevailing thugs. Quality of life has been submerged as a societal goal, displaced by mere survival — and the wan hope of finding the almost mythic isle of Dryland.

As with the aspirations of its drenched denizens, the $178-million (U.S.) film, the most expensive ever at the time, fabulously belly-flopped.

Earlier this month, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a major peer-reviewed study, which also chillingly points to an increasingly watery world. Its architects, however, are not Hollywood Armageddon marketeers, but 384 international scientists piecing together the fluid effects of once unimagined rates of global warming.

And their results are anything but photogenic.

NOAA chief Kathryn Sullivan observes that the striking findings of the research include “remarkable changes in key climate indicators,” such as spectacular spikes in ocean heat content, a record melt of summer Arctic sea ice, and gargantuan transitory ice melt throughout Greenland in 2012. The 260-page report also reveals record-high sea levels.

The most arresting changes occurred in the Arctic, claims report co-editor Deke Arndt. And that is saying something, since shattered climate records in the Arctic are becoming the “new normal,” according to a study co-author Jackie Richter-Menge of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.

The NOAA study follows in the wake of a grim report by climate scientist Benjamin Strauss, published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggesting that hundreds of U.S. coastal cities may be partially or permanently submerged in coming decades owing to rising sea levels.

An interactive map on the website of Climate Central, a not-for-profit research group in Princeton, N.J., where Strauss is based, reveals the cities and towns that are jeopardized.

While Florida is clearly the most vulnerable U.S. state under any greenhouse gas emissions scenario, New Jersey, North Carolina and Louisiana would also face a soggy uphill battle if present rates of climate change continue. The biggest menaced metropolises are Miami; Virginia Beach, Va.; Sacramento, Calif., and Jacksonville, Fla.

Strauss’s study suggests that more than 3.6 million people dwell in the 316 municipalities that are already threatened by significant flooding, not including Canadian snowbirds.

Despite the remarkable significance of such findings, and the potentially thousands of persons killed or displaced and billions of dollars lost in such climate change scenarios, the public response seems to be a collective yawn. Outside of a few newspapers, these reports do not make for front-page headlines, nor do they top television or radio news broadcasts.

One wonders if we are becoming “disaster-numb” when confronted by such climatic scenarios.

The fact is, such watery tragedies are already happening, especially in the global South, with island nations such as the Maldives and coastal nations, such as Bangladesh, experiencing devastating flooding and concomitant hardship. Owing in part to climate change, such devastation has led to the UN to declare that today there are more environmental refugees than political refugees in the world, a stunning fact cogently brought home in the 2005 National Film Board production, Refugees of the Blue Planet.

What these studies and catastrophic developments call for is not defeatism, but political action. There is a compelling need to become, collectively, “disaster adverse,” and to proactively work to prevent such climate-engendered horrors from unfolding.

Such a stance will not be furthered by political leadership that silences scientists, as happened under the George W. Bush administration in the U.S., most notably withNASA climate expert James Hansen, and is occurring now under the current Canadian government, which has all but eliminated unfettered media access to governmental environmental scientists.

Rather than stifling its researchers, our political leadership needs to support and profile its climate scientists, and evolve policies dealing not only with emergency preparedness, but also emergency prevention, when it comes to a climate changed future.

This is how we can keep Waterworld on the screen and not in our city streets.

Stephen Bede Scharper, associate professor of environment at the University of Toronto, is author of For Earth’s Sake: Toward Ecology of Compassion. His column appears monthly.

The woman behind the Burns Lake billboard (2)

This is a hope-filled  follow-up to a story that was posted here on August 4, 2013.

Controversial Burns Lake Billboard Will Stay Up

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 by Emma Gilchrist

Controversial Burns Lake billboard will stay up

This billboard in Burns Lake will be allowed to stay put after village council voted in favour of it remaining.

The anti-Enbridge billboard in Burns Lake that spawned a bylaw infraction notice after complaints of it being “offensive” will stay put after the Village Council voted Tuesday night (Aug. 20) to permit the sign to remain on Gwyn’s Greengrocer.

On July 18, a Dogwood Facebook post about the billboard was shared nearly 3,000 times and viewed by 130,000 people, prompting more debate about the controversial sign.

Before Tuesday’s council meeting, more than a dozen letters were submitted to the mayor and council, from as far away as Toronto and Vancouver, all in support of the sign staying up.

The owner of the business, Gwyndolyn Nicholas, also submitted an appeal letter and spoke briefly at the meeting, detailing how upsetting it was to see the word “offensive” used in reference to her sign.

During a phone interview the day after the decision, Nicholas says the whole ordeal ultimately started something very positive.

“I just feel that there is power in numbers and we sometimes forget that,” she says. “It’s been an amazing and encouraging event. This is a very important issue and so many people are discouraged by what’s happened with the federal government process . . . This allows our group and people in our community to realize that there are people who we support us.”

Nicholas said the support she’s received from across British Columbia and Canada has been “exceptional.” And she’s looking forward to seeing where things go from here: “I don’t see this decision as a conclusion, I see it as the start of something much bigger.”

The previous post can be found at:

Posted August 25, 2013 by allanbaker in Canadian society

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More Jobs, Less Pollution

Energy conservation is common sense for Ontario. This report shows that cutting electricity and natural gas use by 25 per cent by 2025 would create 25,000 new jobs, reduce federal and provincial deficits, boost GDP by $3.7 billion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nine per cent. This may sound ambitions, but it’s readily achievable. Ontario’s energy use is 50 per cent greater than New York State and double that of the U.K. With the province reviewing their Long-Term Energy Plan, now is the time to get serious about conservation. The economic analysis we commissioned is also available for download.

Robert Benzie of the Toronto Star sumarized this report, which can be read at:

Posted August 22, 2013 by allanbaker in Environment

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The courage to change

IMG_0922“Only by recognizing that each change in human society must be made by those who carry in every cell of their bodies the very reason why the change is necessary can we school our hearts to the patience to build truly and well, recognizing that it is not only the price, but also the glory, of our humanity that civilization must be built by human beings.”

Margaret Mead, in her book, Male and Female (1950)

Proroguing democracy in favour of pipelines

By: Clayton Ruby: Published in the Toronto Star on Sunday,  August 18, 2013

Perhaps you’ve never heard of Line 9B. A lot of very rich, mostly foreign or internationally owned interests prefer it that way.

It’s a pipeline. Enbridge’s Line 9B currently transports crude oil originating from the North Sea and elsewhere in an east-to-west direction. Enbridge has applied to reverse the pipeline’s flow west-to-east to ship heavy crude oil and bitumen from the tarsands in Alberta to eastern Canadian markets and beyond. Enbridge is also asking to increase the capacity of Line 9 to 300,000 barrels per day from 240,000 because current infrastructure is operating near capacity.

The rupture of an Enbridge pipeline near the Kalamazoo River in Michigan spilled more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil in July 2010. Canadians are worried they have no say in the decision to reverse Enbridge's Line 9B through southern Ontario.


The rupture of an Enbridge pipeline near the Kalamazoo River in Michigan spilled more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil in July 2010. Canadians are worried they have no say in the decision to reverse Enbridge’s Line 9B through southern Ontario.

Large-capacity pipelines are the primary enablers of tarsands growth. The oilsands produce about 1.8 million barrels of oil per day, but the federal and Alberta governments have approved a production increase up to 5.2 million barrels per day. Shouldn’t all Canadians have a voice in whether or under what conditions some of those barrels will be flowing through Toronto and southern Ontario?

To read Clayton Ruby’s articulate column on how democratic input from citizens is being denied, go to:

Clayton Ruby is a prominent civil rights lawyer and chair of ForestEthics Advocacy Association.

Canada falling behind in green energy race

Canada falling behind in green energy race

Photo: flickr/storm-crypt

Rather than diversifying our energy options, the Harper Conservatives are increasingly limiting our choices and our potential to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Elizabeth May’s commentary from is found at:

The Great Revenue Robbery

Product Details

Just after the announcement of the Harper government’s budget in 2013, Canadians for Tax Fairness published a new book on tax policy called The Great Revenue Robbery: How to stop the tax cut scam and save Canada.

There are ten contributors to this book, which is edited by Richard Swift. Their topics include:

  1. rebuilding our social programs;

  2. reducing the income gap between rich and poor;

  3. a restoration of environmental responsibility by industry and governments,

  4. and revitalizing the Canadian economy.

Thomas Walkom, who writes for the Toronto Star, is quoted as saying; “This is a welcome critique of conventional economic wisdom. If you thought tax cuts would solve all your problems, read The Great Revenue Robbery and think again.”

This book is an essential read for anyone who wishes to engage in the conversation about tax fairness in Canada.

Energy east proposal

TransCanada Corp. is actively promoting plans for the “Energy East” pipeline that would carry up to 850,000 barrels of crude per day, including tar sands, from Alberta to Eastern markets. The 4,400 kilometre pipeline is expected to lead to massive tanker exports from Atlantic coast to send crude to the much larger and more profitable markets of India, China and Europe.  TransCanada would convert its’ 55 year old natural gas pipeline (between Saskatchewan and Quebec), connecting it with new pipeline in the west to Empress, Alberta, and in the east to Quebec City and Saint John, New Brunswick.  The Kalamazoo and Mayflower pipeline spills are poignant warnings of the consequences of shipping tar sands crude through old pipelines.

For a list of the communities and First Nations that are potentially directly affected, go to: